The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way we teach and learn. In the middle of last year, we suddenly had to adapt to online learning and became fully dependent on technology. Over time, we built some confidence and students and teachers learned to establish and embrace new virtual learning routines. Several months later, this new academic year brings back again all the excitement and challenges of starting a new year online, including isolation and anxiety.
So, the first priority to prepare for online and blended learning is to make sure that children feel welcome, safe and part of the community. I will build relationships with each EAL child by meeting them and getting to know them as individuals and learners, understanding their interests and caring for their emotional and academic needs, so I can develop trust and will be able to provide personalized support.
I will start to collect evidence and data by using WIDA descriptors and by monitoring formative assessment from Seesaw posts and notes from small group meetings to set language goals.
I will collaborate with homeroom teachers by co-planning lesson targets connected to G4 curriculum and previewing or consolidating the language objectives specific to language functions in small groups. I will definitely gather new teaching ideas from the expertise of my EAL team and update my skills in using different APPs, websites and platforms.
My main role will be to support vocabulary acquisition and content understanding. I will try to scaffold and clarify the content, making it brief and clear. I will also make sure that EAL students understand their daily tasks’ instructions, know how to access devices and resources and how to use the main platforms, like Seesaw and Raz-kids.
In small groups, I will create activities that target the 4 language domains. I will use SIOP strategies to make sure that I build the learning experience on my students’ cultural background and their prior knowledge. To engage the students and cater for their learning styles, I will vary the tasks and provide visuals and charts. I will offer choices like journal writing, video responses, discussions and peers’ interactions, think aloud… I will also provide choice in the reading material and make them explore technology tools. I will create opportunities for peer-to-peer evaluation and self-assessment so EAL students can review their own progress and language goals.
My partnership with parents will also be crucial to set a thriving and joyful virtual environment. I will reach them through regular announcements and email communication, as well as face-to-face meetings. I will encourage them to continue using their home language and will regularly provide feedback on their child English language skills’ growth.